The Best Big Wall Hauling Devices
There is no part of big wall climbing reviled as much as hauling. To ease the pain we looked at the four top products and put them up against some monster El Cap loads. We evaluated each device on its ease of hauling, ease of setup, durability, ease of use, and portability. We found that all worked but that they each excelled at different parts of the test. In the end there was no escaping a simple fact: the best way to haul loads is to just bring less stuff in the first place. Also, the best hauling device in the world won't help if you are using the wrong hauling technique.
Read the full review below >
Test Results and Ratings
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Analysis and Award Winners
Ability to Haul Loads
The bigger the pulley, the easier the hauling. There is no way around that. It is no surprise that the Petzl Pro Traxion and Waul Hauler (each with 2" pulleys) are much better for hauling big loads than the Micro Traxion. Both the Pro Traxion and the Waul Hauler excel at loads in the 75 lb. to 150 lb. range and we feel that each does about an equal job. While the Wall Hauler is only rated to 190 lb. vs. the Pro Traxion's 560 lb, if we were hauling more than 190 lb. (which you will never catch us doing), we wouldn't use either device. Instead, we would want a big pulley (2" or bigger sheath) like the CMI RP 101 setup with the old school pulley and ascender method. For under 75 lb, the Petzl Micro Traxion and Micro Traxion work great. For any load bigger, it still works, it's just a little harder to haul. For climbing The Nose in two days, bring the Micro Traxion. On the first day, when the bag is heavy, you might wish you had a bigger pulley. But for the last two days, it's nice to have such a lightweight and compact device for free climbing.
Ease of Setup
All the devices are easy to set up, especially compared to the time and effort of setting up the old school "pulley and ascender method." The Waul Hauler is the most intuitive to set up but the Pro Traxion is overall the easiest because it is always clipped to the anchor. With the Micro Traxion and Waul Hauler, if the haul line weighs a lot (which it usually does) it can be a little hard (and scary) to get the device set up. So we usually tie the haul line to the anchor temporarily (to get the weight off the part of the haul line we want to put in the hauling device). Then clip the Micro Traxion or Waul Hauler to the anchor and then undo the temporary bit of rope that was clipped to the anchor. If you didn't follow those last two sentences, don't worry. The point is that the Pro Traxion avoids all those steps because you can set it up while clipped to your hauling point. You never worry about dropping the device while trying to feed a heavy haul rope through it.
But to be honest, the whole paragraph above does not matter much if you have your hauling device "pre-loaded" which is what is recommended in our How to Big Wall Climb posts.
Ease of Use
All the devices are fairly easy to use. One nice feature with the Petzl devices is that you can pull the cam back and out of the way easily with one hand. With the Waul Hauler it requires more effort. You have to pull the back the cam, hold it with your finger and then put a pin in. This is annoying when you are trying to get the bag off the Waul Hauler and onto the anchor.
The Micro Traxion is by far the most portable. Its light and compact package is greatly appreciated on mostly-free big walls such as The Nose or Half Dome where you don't want tons of heavy stuff on the back of your harness when busting free moves. Second place is the Micro Traxion. In third place is the Waul Hauler, which is about an ounce lighter than the Pro Traxion but is about the same amount of bulk. Overall, they are all very portable when compared the old "pulley and ascender method."
The Petzl devices use a similar cam that Chris says he has never been able to wear out. The Waul Hauler cam will wear out over time and cause the bag to slip. Chris noticed that after about 15 walls this starts to happen. When he called Rock Exotica about it, they said very few devices ever get returned for this reason. So it could be that most people never climb enough wall for it to be an issue. Also, Rock Exotica gave Chris a quote of $15 to replace the piece. That gives some peace of mind if you think it will be an issue for you.
The Bottom Line
The Petzl Micro Traxion is the best product for less than 100-150 pound loads. It also doubles as an awesome solo self-belay device for fixed ropes. It is light and easy to use. It is also expensive but we think the cost is worth it.
Petzl Pro Traxion.
Rock Exotica Waul Hauler.
If you need to haul absolutely monster loads (200-plus pounds) then get a 3" or bigger pulley and use the old "pulley and ascender method." An example of this is the CMI RP 101 Pulley W/ Petzl Ascension
— Chris McNamara
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